"As soon as we notice that certain types of events 'like' to cluster together at certain times, we begin to understand the Chinese, whose theories of medicine, philosophy, and even building are based on a 'science' of meaningful coincidences." - Marie-Louise von Franz
High blood pressure or hypertension, affects more than one in three Australian, but most people may not even know they have it. Since hypertension can lead to heart attacks and other life-threatening health problems, it's essential to learn all you can and take action to lower your risk. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offer a safe, natural, and pain-free way to keep your blood pressure in check.
What is hypertension?
Blood pressure is the actual force of blood flowing against your artery walls. Getting your blood pressure tested is a quick, simple process. It's measured in two numbers: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Blood pressure is considered high if your systolic pressure is at or above 140 mm Hg, and your diastolic pressure is at or above 90 mm Hg. Often called "the silent killer," hypertension doesn't usually cause symptoms until it gets severe enough to lead to significant health problems such as heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and metabolic disorders. It has also been linked to dementia and cognitive impairment. Many factors contribute to hypertension, including heredity, diet, obesity, stress, lack of exercise and pre-existing diseases. Hypertension is usually asymptomatic, but some may experience symptoms such as dizziness, flushed face, headache, fatigue, epistaxis, and nervousness.
Hypertension is one of the most common disorders in developed countries. In Western medicine, many different categories of drugs may be used to treat hypertension, including but not limited to diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, and vasodilators. All these drugs have benefits and risks and may be given individually or in combinations to control blood pressure.
The main advantage of drug therapy is its potency to suppress blood pressure. However, the main disadvantages are that the drugs cause a significant number of side effects, and they do not change the patient's underlying constitution. Therefore, while they are useful to suppress blood pressure, they must be used continuously and cannot be stopped. Discontinuing use of these drugs often leads to rebound hypertension.
In Chinese medicine, hypertension may be characterised by both excess and deficiency, similar to “red” and “pale” high blood pressure types in Western medicine. Excess refers to Liver yang rising, and deficiency refers to Liver and Kidney yin deficiencies. Both conditions may be treated effectively with herbal medicine. The main advantage of using herbs is the useful ability to change the body's fundamental constitution, thereby achieving long-term efficacy to reduce blood pressure, even after the herbs are discontinued. However, the main disadvantage is that herbs are less immediately potent than drugs for the treatment of hypertensive crisis, or secondary hypertension, thus they should not be used in place of drugs in these cases.
What causes high blood pressure?
More than 90% of high blood pressure cases are known as "essential hypertension" and have no identifiable cause. "Secondary hypertension," on the other hand, is caused by underlying conditions such as kidney disease or certain medications. The risk factors for essential hypertension include age (the risk is higher after period 35), race (African Americans are at higher risk), and a family history of the condition. While you can't control those factors, there are many you can control, including:
- Being overweight
- Being stressed
- Consuming too much salt
- Drinking heavily
- Not exercising
- Using tobacco
How can acupuncture and TCM help?
Fortunately, there are many ways to lower your blood pressure. Conventional Western treatments include controlling your risk factors and taking medication if needed. By incorporating acupuncture and TCM into your treatment plan, you can treat your hypertension and improve your overall health and well-being.
Western medicine classifies hypertension into two types: “red” and “pale” high blood pressure. “Red” high blood pressure corresponds with the Chinese medicine diagnosis of excess and generally occurs in energetic and stressed individuals with marked redness and vascularised skin. “Pale” high blood pressure corresponds with the Chinese medicine diagnosis of deficiency and occurs typically in individuals with compromised kidneys, glands, or metabolism. For hypertension treatment, we monitor the blood pressure and adjust the dosage of acupuncture and herbal medicine based on age, body weight, the severity of the condition, and response to treatment.
As an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioners, we take a holistic, or "whole body," approach for the treatment of hypertension and consider the inharmonious conditions of the whole system than can involve the liver's function kidneys, digestive system and heart. Treatment is based upon the idea of Qi (pronounced "chee"), the vital energy that flows through pathways called meridians, providing nourishment for all of the body's organs and protecting it from illness. When the flow of Qi becomes diminished or blocked, disease and illness result. The goal of treatment is to find and address the underlying imbalance(s) affecting Qi's flow, leading to elevated blood pressure and various symptoms. By addressing the root cause of your high blood pressure, TCM can help your body regain its natural balance. In doing so, you'll also strengthen your health and reduce the risk of future health conditions. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have proven effective against a wide variety of health concerns. Studies have found that a unique form of acupuncture called electro-acupuncture, which uses electrical stimulation, may lower blood pressure. By working together with your practitioner, you'll be on your way to successfully treat your hypertension and improving your health, for today and the days ahead. Like healthy eating and regular exercise, consistent acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments should be considered the most excellent long-term results.
Recommendations and Lifestyle Changes
Both drugs and herbs are useful for treating hypertension, and they have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Besides choosing either medications or herbal therapy, it is also important to make diet and lifestyle changes to ensure successful long-term hypertension management.
- Eliminate salt from the diet in cases of hypertension. Avoid MSG, baking soda, meat, fat, aged foods, alcohol, diet soft drinks, preservatives, sugar substitutes, meat tenderisers, and soy sauce.
- Over-the-counter medications that contain ibuprofen, such as Advil or Motrin, should not be used.
- Aspartame should also be avoided, since a high level may increase blood pressure.
- Increase the intake of fresh, raw vegetables and fruits to control blood pressure. Nuts and seeds should be consumed daily as a source of protein.
- Vitamin C and bioflavonoids help to reduce blood pressure by stabilising the blood vessel walls.
- Garlic is useful to lower blood pressure and thin the blood.
The Tao of Nutrition by Dr Maoshing Ni and Cathy McNease:
- Recommendations: celery, spinach, garlic, bananas, sunflower seeds, honey, tofu, mung beans, bamboo shoots, seaweed, vinegar, tomatoes, water chestnuts, corn, apples, persimmons, peas, buckwheat, jellyfish, watermelon, hawthorn berries, eggplant, plums, mushrooms, lemons, lotus root, chrysanthemums, and cassia seeds.
- Take black or white mushrooms and cook soup daily.
- Steam or bake jellyfish about 12 minutes, add vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil; take daily for about two months.
- Make a tea from chrysanthemum flowers and cassia seeds and drink daily.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, spicy foods, coffee, caffeine, all stimulants, fatty or fried foods, salty foods, potatoes, pork, and overeating.
- Recommendations: chrysanthemum flowers, mint, green onions, oyster shells, pearl barley, carrots, prunes, buckwheat, peach kernels, and green tea.
- Avoid spicy food, alcohol, and smoking.
- Healthy bowel and urinary functions help to reduce blood pressure. Diuretics and stool softeners should be taken as needed.
- Maintain a positive attitude and outlook. Control emotions and reduce stress. Emotional fluctuations should be minimised whenever possible.
- Individuals who are aware of circumstances or activities that trigger tension and hypertensive responses need to initiate patterns in their lives that help them avoid or reduce the impact of those triggers.
- Stop alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.
- Weight loss is highly recommended to help lower blood pressure.
- Exercises such as swimming and brisk walking are excellent for hypertension.
Adelaide City Acupuncture: Alternative Solutions for Blood Pressure
Our team at Adelaide City Acupuncture offers an extensive selection of therapies based on Chinese medicine, including:
- Chinese nutrition
- Herbal medicine and topical treatments
- Fire cupping and wet cupping
- Light needle laser treatments
- Gua Sha
- Far-infrared heat therapy
- Tai Chi and Qi Gong
- Tui-Na massage
You don't have to suffer anymore. At Adelaide Acupuncture Centre, We will work with you to find the best treatment solution for your blood pressure needs. We are conveniently located in the CBD and easily accessible through both private and public transportation. Contact us today to learn more about our alternative blood pressure treatment options or to schedule your consultation.